A mood of optimism prevailed at the Drug Policy Foundation's Eighth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform, last November 17-19 at the Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington DC. Despite "Black Tuesday" -- Congressional elections were a recent occurrence -- there was a feeling that the growing momentum of the reform movement could soon be translated into concrete political action. Kicking off the event, DPF officers and board members gathered to discuss The State of the Reform Movement. DPF President Arnold Trebach, Executive Director David Condliffe, and board members Ira Glasser, Executive Director of the ACLU, US District Judge Robert Sweet, and Ethan Nadelmann, formerly of Princeton University and now director of the Lindesmith Center in New York, presented in this Thursday morning plenary session.
Trebach suggested that even the recent Republican takeover of Congress could provide opportunities; the task facing reformers is to "encourage the practical and ethical thinkers on the Republican side -- and they are there -- to step forward and take a stand on this issue." Nadelmann said "it would be foolish to stand watching on the sidelines and say we have nothing to offer" in the formulation of drug policy. While educating the public about prohibition, we should at the same time pursue a harm-reduction agenda; "Harm reduction is about making prohibition work better, but on our terms."
Topics covered in this three-day adventure included mandatory minimum sentencing, drug policy and human rights, the clergy's perspective, reproductive rights, police perspectives, new treatment techniques, DARE, use of informants, needle exchange, and many more. DRCNet founder David Borden spoke on the Saturday morning plenary session Reform Organizations: The Next Generation, chaired by Ethan Nadelmann. The panel also included Richard Cowan, Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Robert Field, Chairman of the Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation, Eugene Oscapella, Co-Founder of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, and Ron Owens, Executive Director of the Australian Drug law Reform Foundation.
You can be part of the excitement next time around: The Ninth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform is scheduled for October 18-21, 1995, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in California. Pre-registration is available now; contact Whitney Taylor at the Drug Policy Foundation, (202) 537-5005.
Thanks to a pledge of $3 million in matching funds by the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundations, contributions to the Drug Policy Foundation go twice as far. Annual DPF membership dues are $25 or more, and get you a subscription to the Drug Policy Letter. Remember, your $25 contribution turns into $50 in DPF's hands. Send to: